There are probably five soundtracks that I own that I listen to for every project that I work on. As I’ve probably already alluded to you, the first is almost always ‘A Beautiful Mind’ by James Horner. Almost tying it, however, is most definitely the deep and dark score written by Normund Corbeil for the PS3 game, “Heavy Rain.” The songs are so passionate, emotive, and psychological, that I find myself rushing back to them whenever I’m in need of just the right track for a certain scene.
“Heavy Rain” was released in 2010 by the company Quantic Dream. The game is more of a playable story in which the player makes decisions in dialogue and action that eventually affect the outcome of the game. This game is the reason that I bought a Playstation 3. The only reason. I consider this game to be one of the best out there for characterization and storytelling. And the music of course, blew me away the first time I heard it. I had to get the soundtrack for it. And now, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have it for my writing. Below, I’ve selected 8 tracks to discuss with you today.
Norman Jayden’s Theme: This song is one of my favorite dark atmospheric pieces. I end up listening to this one for just about everything. This inspired a certain scene in the upcoming Aequitas, which is quite gruesome and definitely gets us better in touch with our novel’s antagonist. The piece does wonders in conjuring all sorts of gnarled and scary images. It sounds corrupted and pitch-black. I also get the sense that we are viewing a character who shows little remorse for what he’s done or is about to do. This works well for novels in crime fiction, horror, suspense, thriller, and especially noir.
Madison Paige’s Theme: There is a character who lives in a rundown apartment building over a restaurant. It’s raining hard outside. She’s just gotten home and is eager to make some dinner and relax. It’s been a long and stressful day. As she’s moving about the apartment, she goes through the mail that she collected from her box downstairs. She stops when she reaches one letter. It’s addressed to a different name, a name she no longer uses. And the handwriting is painfully familiar. She wonders how they tracked her down. She wonders if they are on their way here now. In a frenzy, she rips open the letter and reads the contents. It’s not what she expected at all. It’s far worse. This is one of my favorite pieces on the soundtrack. I’ve used this one for multiple projects.
Scott Shelby’s Main Theme: This was made for a noir novel. The way that the trumpet comes in signals a lone character who is willing to get his hands dirty in order to find out what’s going on behind the scenes. Like the other pieces on this soundtrack, it’s quite dark sounding. This piece is longer than the previous ones, so it’s easy to become immersed in it while writing. As I’ve been working on Memento Mori, I’ve found that this song really fits in with the city in the way I’ve described it. The previous novels have been of the globe trotting sort. The characters move around a lot to different cities and countries. This is the first novel where our characters have remained in one city and we get to explore it in great detail, get to know it’s nooks and crannies as our characters go about their daily lives. I like to search for a video of just rain and thunder to play along with this track. It really helps the immersion.
Redemption: The violins in this piece always make me choose this as one of the most heart-breaking and somber tracks for a tragedy scene. The character arrives too late at a scene to save his mentor, a husband finally loses his wife to a terminal disease, a doctor loses a patient he’s been treating for over a year. It doesn’t necessarily need to be related to death but that’s what comes to me when I hear it. The violin is so sad but the tones are also so deep that it needs to be something that is grave and deeply serious in order for it to truly work well.
High Tension (Jayden’s Action Soundtrack): In need of some intense action music? This works well for a chase, a fight, or just a “high tension” situation in which the character needs to make a decision quickly. I can also see this working for a murder mystery piece as well where the killer is about to strike. This piece is much shorter than most on the soundtrack. It does a very good job though of getting your heart rate accelerated.
The Fight (Shelby’s Action Soundtrack): I personally love this track for action scenes. It works well for a lone character who is moving into a situation that anything can happen in. There’s some serious determination in them and some vengeance guiding them toward making this decision though. They are not going back until they’ve found what they need to find or have killed who they need to kill. This is definitely a climactic song as well and works if the character is at a point in the novel where it is impossible for them to turn around and go back.
Looking For Shaun (Mars Action Soundtrack): Yet another intense piece. This time, it’s for a character who is running out of time to do something. The long blaring horn coupled with the building violins beats through you as you listen to the song. The character is running from a killer, they are fighting to try and save the one they love, or they are racing through traffic trying to get somewhere before something happens. I listened to this piece for inspiration while working on Memento Mori because I really needed my characters to feel like their time was running out. This is also a great track to accompany a split second decision where everything starts happening very suddenly and the character is swept along with it, sometimes leading to a terrible climax.
Last Breath: The most delicate of the tracks I’ve shared with you today, this piece is for the calm before or after the storm. It’s so soft that it almost sounds like a lullaby and yet there’s that eerie screech in the background that foreshadows something bad that’s about to happen. There’s a real uneasiness in this song that I love. It takes the safety away from the main characters and makes the world something to watch out for. I listened to this piece while working on sections of my short story, Acquolina and my short story Disintigrate. Both of these will be released in the next couple months.
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be taking a look at the works from the brilliant Dario Marianelli, a film composer who has serenaded us and engaged us with scores from films like ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and ‘V for Vendetta’. Stay tuned!